CATTARAUGUS - Members of the Cattaraugus Fire Department, the Firemen's Women's Unit, and the Cattaraugus Area Ambulance Service held its annual installation banquet recently at the Firemen's Club. The meal featured turkey, beef and numerous side dishes. It was prepared and served by Pete's Place, A to Z Catering, Randolph.
In addition to local first responders, a number of invited guests attended. Newly elected Mayor Eric Pritchard, Trustee Angela Hogan, Trustee John Bronneberg (also a fireman) and Department of Public Works Superintendent Jason Opferbeck represented the Village of Cattaraugus. For the Town of New Albion were Councilwoman Marilyn Wasmund (also a member of the Women's Unit) and Highway Superintendant Gerald Cobo.
Several neighboring fire departments were also represented, with personnel from Dayton, East Randolph, Little Valley, Otto and Randolph sharing the food and the fun. In addition, members of the New Albion/Cattaraugus Joint Fire District's Board of Fire Commissioners, including several directors and officers, attended the celebration.
WOMEN’S UNIT OFFICERS: (from left) Secretary Jenill Griffin; Sgt. at Arms Dawn Weishan; VP Merry Lankow; Treasurer Diana Eades.
Following dinner, Attorney Scott Printup addressed the gathering. "It's been a rough couple of years for the fire department," he started out, "and that's why I was brought in." He explained that the Cattaraugus Fire Company had requested his assistance in untangling and reorganizing the club's finances, after two former members allegedly misappropriated thousands in Bell Jar funds. At last year's banquet, Chief Wayne Stein and 1st Assistant Chief Bill Ellis vowed that such a thing "would not happen again." Printup said the procedures and safeguards he's helped institute should go a long way toward making Stein's and Ellis's pledge a reality. "Now," he said, "it's time to heal."
In closing, he offered two apt observations about volunteerism. "Volunteers are people who see the glass half-full--then look for someone who's thirsty," he remarked. "Volunteers don't get paid--not because they're worthless, but because they're priceless."
Printup then administered oaths of office to incoming officers for each of the three organizations:
Cattaraugus Fire Department: President, Eileen Williams; Vice President, John Rhinehart; Secretary, Dennis Seekins; Treasurer, Andrew Barr; Assistant Treasurer, John Bronneberg; Sergeant-at-Arms, Rick Ellis; Assistant Sergeant-at-Arms, Cory Jensen; Fire Police Captain, Kimber Erhart; Assistant F.P. Captain, Wayne Harvey; Fire Chief, Wayne Stein; 1st Assistant Chief, William Ellis; 2nd Assistant Chief, James Clendening.
Cattaraugus Fire Department Board of Directors: Roger Erhart, Andrew Barr, Kimber Erhart, Joseph Frentz, Nicholas Rhinehart and Steve Griffin.
Cattaraugus Fire Department Women's Unit: President, Beth McIntyre; Vice President, Merry Lankow; Secretary, Jenill Griffin; Treasurer, Diana Eades; Sergeant-at-Arms, Dawn Weishan.
Cattaraugus Ambulance Service: EMS Chief, Ken Charles; EMS Chief Warrant, Michelle Connors; Secretary, Kim Charles.
Stein and Ellis then moved on to special awards. They presented Robert Polanski with the Fireman of the Year plaque, citing his diligence in all aspects of volunteer work. They also awarded a specially designed four-sided helmet to Cory Jensen, who, despite still being in high school, is a "gung-ho" fireman who's "there for everything".
The Women's Unit gave service pins to Hope Rogan for 15 years and to Patty Murphy for twenty years. Anna Mallabar received a standing ovation as she accepted special acknowledgement for her fifty years of service.
In what has become a traditional gesture, yellow roses were presented to the widows of fallen firemen: Rhonda Kulaw (Leo), Anna Mallaber (Herndon), Arvilla Pritchard (Gary), Phyllis Rogan (Bob), Marilyn Wasmund (Dave) and Dawn Weishan (Bob).
Before ending the festivities, a roll call of the top ten responders was read. Out of 70 total calls for the year, Bill Ellis answered 60; Wayne Stein, 53; Dennis Seekins, 39; Bob Polanski, 36; Rick Tackentien, 35; Steve Griffin, 33; Cory Jensen, 29; Marge Bradley and Jim Clendening, 26; Nick Rhinehart and Wayne Harvey, 24.
"We have a lot of new members this year," observed Chief Stein. "Some younger men are joining up. I'm proud of all you guys."
With the program over, tables were cleared and people settled down to enjoy music, conversation and camaraderie.